We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…
When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?
The thing is, I rarely purchase books. My entire personal library can fit easily onto one (admittedly tall) bookshelf. I always want to make sure that I’ll love a book before I buy it. I’ll buy novels by Jeffrey Eugenides and Neil Gaiman without a second thought, but if it’s something I’m not sure about, I rent it from the library or borrow it from a friend first. It has to earn its place on my shelf. That said, I’ve been buying more books lately. I have a bit more of a disposable income at the moment, but I’m also trying to support my favorite independent bookstore, Little Shop of Stories.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t tossed out some books. I bought Gregory Maguire’s A Lion Among Men because I wanted to learn more about the green baby girl introduced at the end of Son of a Witch. A Lion Among Men explored nothing of the kind, and while it furthered one plot line from Son of a Witch, it by means resolved it. I was most dissatisfied. When that happens, I use SwapTree, which is amazing. I’m fairly sure I got a Disney soundtrack in exchange for A Lion Among Men. Or, if it’s just not my cuppa and somebody I know will like it, I’ll toss it into my gift tub.
The reason for my reluctance to commit a book to my personal library is simple–my father does not throw away books. His side of the master bedroom in my childhood home is awash in books. The garage is full of shelves, each crammed to the point of bursting with books. The same goes for his office at home. Frankly, as my personal library still lives there, it cannot compete with the behemoth of my father’s library. There’s just no space.
I like having a small library. Now, when I get a place of my own and many, many bookshelves, I think I’ll prove to be my father’s daughter…